Return to torture island

May Day 2009: Unionists and members of the Tamil community
march in Auckland for the rights of workers around the world/
The Australian government has forcibly returned 38 of the 66 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who landed on Australia's west coast this month asking for help from New Zealand.

Many of those sent back, including women and children, were not offered legal advice.

The Brisbane Times reported the reaction of Australian critics of the deportation,
Refugee lawyer David Manne, who successfully led the High Court challenge against the government's Malaysia solution, said the expulsions were "a radical retreat" from longstanding laws and practices in Australia.  
"Did Govt tell Geraldton arrivals of their statutory rights to legal advice and to apply for protection under due process?" Mr Manne asked on Twitter. "If not, why not?"  
Asylum Seeker Resources Centre chief executive Kon Karapanagiotidis wrote on Twitter that the asylum seekers never had a chance of a fair assessment. 
"In 12 years of working with asylum seekers this is the worst abuse I have seen ... deporting people with no access to legal advice/representation doesn't get any more unlawful."
This crime by the Australian Labor Government against the rights of refugees and asylum seekers comes just two months after the Guardian reported that a British organisation, Freedom from Torture, had discovered via a Freedom of Information request that fifteen Sri Lankan asylum seekers deported back to Sri Lanka from Britain were subsequently tortured, including being subject to gang rape by state forces.

Tamils with links to the Tamil Tiger, national liberation movement continue to face the threat of assassination, torture and persecution and the UN Human Rights Council last month passed a resolution calling for a probe into the situation faced by the very same people who arrive in boats in Australian waters.

Human Rights Watch in September 2012 called for the UK to end forced deportations of Sri Lankan asylum seekers citing 13 cases of alleged torture of returned asylum seekers, all supported by medical documentation.

It's an important principle and international law. No one should be returned to a country where they face the threat of violence and persecution. Australia's treatment of the asylum seekers and New Zealand's silence is a serious crime against the right of refugees. One of Socialist Aotearoa's founding principles is the welcoming for refugees and asylum seekers to Aotearoa. On May Day 2009 in Auckland the trade union movement and Sri Lankan community marched side by side in support of the rights of refugees and migrant workers.

The Australian Labor Government denies refugees legal advice and then justifies its deportations by saying they are illegal immigrants. But as Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, '“You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?”

-Socialist Aotearoa


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